A big BOO to Discovery Channel, Mermaids are not real

mermaid statueA big BOO to Discovery Channel and their increasingly sensational attempts to grab ratings, their latest attempt was a pseudoscience mockumentary about mermaids and a government conspiracy to hide the existence of these mythical creatures. They’ve previously had a ghost hunter show as well where they mix computer generated graphics and fake scientific equipment that purportedly prove the existence of supernatural beings.

This just in: Mermaids are NOT real, US agency says. 

NOAA’s National Ocean Service came out against the reality of mermaids after a documentary-style science fiction programme on the Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet suggested in May that the body of a mermaid had been found on a beach.

The Discovery site suggested NOAA responded because Discovery’s documentary-style show, “Mermaids: The Body Found,” had painted a convincing picture of the existence of mermaids.

“The show was an ‘X-Files’ type fanciful mix of state-of-the-art computer generated animation, historical fact, conspiracy theory and real and faked footage sprinkled with enough bits of scientific speculation and real science to make it seem plausible,” the Discovery site said.


Watch videos from Mermaids: The Body Found, a story that blends real-life events and phenomena with first-hand accounts from a team of scientists.

fishermen mermaid

fishermen mermaid picture from Discovery Channel

This is the story of the first-hand account of a team of government scientists who testify they found the remains of a never-before-identified sea creature with ties to human origins – a mermaid. Stunning computer animation, eyewitness video and photographic evidence shows what the creature looks like, and questions are raised about whether a massive government cover-up is hiding proof of their existence.

I understand that they need to make money, but they are either a reputable documentary channel or they are not. Students watching HBO understand that a Spiderman movie is not real, but when I asked an MYP 1 (Grade 7) class of mine about the Ghost Hunter show at least half of them were unsure if it was a documentary or not, partly because Discovery channel is an authority and partly because they appeared to be using ‘scientific equipment’.

The need for creating impressive pseudo-scientific shows is a false need, real science is incredible enough. I wish they would make up their minds, Science or Fiction, don’t mix the two please! And in the meantime I will just have to work on my students critical thinking skills a little more.

edit: an updated post https://gjismyp.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/discovery-channel-mermaids-and-critical-thinking/


About Pak Liam

Living, teaching and traveling in Asia.
This entry was posted in Science Education and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to A big BOO to Discovery Channel, Mermaids are not real

  1. Caprice Cake says:

    Thank you for your post! Not only is it exactly what I wanted when I used the search engine, but it’s a very brief way of confirming what I already knew to be true. However, my logic simply ran that, if mermaids were discovered, alive or in remains, Discovery would certainly not be the ones telling us first!
    I will continue to look into the classification of the show– whether it is a doc or a “doc-style” show– just to know where Discovery stands on the matter.

    Nice post. 🙂

  2. Troy says:

    It amazes me that people watched this show and really believe now

    • brutus says:

      Amen, why so serious.

    • BTN says:

      The issue is that people (such as myself) assume that Discovery channel is a non-fiction channel. So if thet say they are interviewing a NOAA scientists, the assumption is that **they are interviewing a NOAA scientist**, not an actor or actress. They only have a disclaimer at the beginning of the show, so it is easy to miss. If this was on NBC or FOX, then I would assume it was fake, but I didn’t think Discovery would stoop to made-up garbage, especailly with poor disclosure that it is made-up.

      True, the cam-phone video looked cheesy, but if a viewer is assuming that it is the same video that a real-life scientist viewed, then that greatly enhances the credibility of the video.

  3. The last coyote says:

    Just got done watching this and I can’t believe discovery would run crap like that. I mean I can see this being on syfy channel but wow discovery just failed. Bad script, audio levels, poor cgi from bandito and the acting was super see-through. What a joke.

  4. Benji says:

    I new it was a farce when Jason Cope posed as one of the sonar specialists. This guy was in District 9.

  5. Terry S. says:

    Discovery channel should have made a clear disclaimer that this is FICTION. All the trailers hyping it up, I thought I was watching a real documentary. I am PISSED I wasted 2 hours on fiction.

    • Pak Liam says:

      That would be a fair compromise, just like advertisments in newspaper or magazines have to advertise themselves as such, perhaps Discovery should clearly label fiction shows, as fiction.

    • BTN says:

      Ditto, they should have had a disclaimer after each commercial break.

  6. Susan says:

    Shame on you Discovery Channel. It is hard enough for young people to discern good information from bad on t.v. and the internet; now we have to question “discovery” as a source. It is sad that you have succumbed to the ridiculous to chase after ratings. Yuck.

  7. Loka Paluka says:

    Just watched it. Sick of the way ‘Big Brother’ control and manipulate media to discredit individuals and institutions to advance its agenda. Another reason why there is urgent need to slash military budget in half.

    • Pak Liam says:

      I think you’ve missed the point, the entire show is fiction, including the government ‘reaction’ to the so called discoveries and evidence. There is no ‘big brother’ control and there is no agenda regarding mermaids or other mythical creatures, I think the US government has much bigger issues to consider, such as the quality of the educational system and the ramifications of the “No Child left behind” policy.

    • Lird Paul Darrow Patron of the Save The Wild Haggis Sanctuary ;) says:

      I assume you’re joking with that comment Loka – but, i think it’s concievable that this is being used as an exersise to see how gulible people are.

      • A good way to see how gullible people are is to see how much they believe in their governments words, despite the long history of the government doing…questionable…things. Today it is mermaids, in the past it was aliens and ghosts. Who are we to say they are nonexistent when it is a fact that we have not explored every inch of our planet and universe. We once believed the world was flat and that earth was the center of the solar system. In a more recent perspective, we used to believe the mentally ill should be locked away for their own and everyone else’s safety, and that being gay was a mental disorder. Science and the government have been wrong in the past, and they will probably be wrong again in the future. All in all, regardless of the factuality of the show, they did put a more realistic image of what a mermaid would look like. Lastly, if proof is what makes it true or not, please point me toward all the proof of the gods that are believed in. We all must make the judgement call to believe or not believe things, we should never rely too heavily on what others say. Even if there is proof, that proof could have been found using skewed results or faulty research.

  8. kevin says:

    I am very disappointed in this program! It was billed as authentic and I assumed it was real given it was on the “Discovery Channel”. Who ever had this Idea should be fired, epic fail! I have lost any confidence and trust that I had in your network for being accurate and scientific, this is very lame Hollywood sensationalism on your part and very deceptive. Unfortunately there will be loads of people who will believe this as true and scientific……shame on you! Waste of time to watch.

  9. Ken says:

    Discovery channel: leave the fiction to the sci-fi channel. The programming that we look for from you is compelling real science programming. Your loyal core viewers don’t expect scripted dramatized pseudo science. We are fascinated by the facts. The real universe is more compelling to us than science fiction.

    • Miss. Marshall says:

      Who is to say that this is science fiction. Keep in Ming that all myths and fiction is based partially in fact. Even as humans we have an ancestry of aquatic origins. It’s plausible that a branch of humanoid beings evolved in the water, and don’t move onto land. And frankly, all throughout history stories of “mermaids” have been seen throughout the world and all cultures. Wouldn’t it be a little odd that all these drastically different cultures have shockingly similar depictions of these aquatic creatures, if they didn’t exist at least one point in time?

  10. pyreandwind says:

    Why would The Discovery Channel, an organization that has aired many programs, including Future Weapons, countless Navy SEALs documentaries, etc. all praising the powerful and very systematized United State’s military, turnaround and badmouth the very hand that feeds them? Maybe this ridiculous documentary (making it very apparent that “big brother” has the capability to eliminate any trace of evidence from all research or findings which may have some interest to them) is a sort of ploy or scare tactic by the US to make its citizens more scared than they already are to explore, travel, and think outside of the box. Perhaps most of us can see through it, but I’m sure many not only believe in mermaids now, but are also terrified of our government’s capabilities. Maybe the real message for many of the younger viewers, such as your students is “obey or else…”

    -It’s just a thought

    • Laird Paul Darrow Patron of the Save The Wild Haggis Sanctuary ;) says:

      Yes I agree with that as I said above, I think this has been an exersise to gauge how gullible people really are. Something is being cooked up for sure.

  11. Scott Herndon says:

    If it is such a farce then WHY was the research material confiscated by the authorities. I applaud The Discovery Channel for not being too afraid to air such a subject and ask questions. I suggest the research continue toward an end of confirming publicly its conclusions. I question government confiscations more than I question public presentations and opinions. Let me decide not a government.

    • Robert says:

      EXACTLY. why would the NAVY confiscate the scientific research???? The government HAS done it many, many times before— it’s a matter of fact. You people really don’t think that our government doesn’t tightly control certain information— even if it’s not a matter of national security??? Don’t be so naive…

    • BTN says:

      You missed the point: it was all made up. I didn’t realize that either until after the show.

      I’m sure the US government is capable of such a cover-up, but the fact is that the “NOAA scientist that were speaking for the first time” were not scientists ata all: they were actors reading from a script. The body from the shark and the video from the boy were just CGI.

      • Chance Bowman says:

        you all seem to go from the assumption that it is all made up, where is YOUR evidence that is made up? Even if certain aspects of the movie were made up, the existence of mermaids is common sense.

      • Pak Liam says:

        I suspect that you are just playing devil’s advocate. But in arguing the existence of something, the burden of proof relies on the person making the original claim.

        Not vice versa. Proving the non-existence of something via evidence is rather absurd, in much the same manner as the famous example of the existence of Russel’s celestial teapot flying around the sun between Earth and Mars cannot be disproved.

      • Miss. Marshall says:

        Let’s also keep in mind that scientific theories believed a half a century ago have been disproved. And some that were considered ludicrous were proved to be plausible, and in some cases, near factual. Also, science is not fact-fact. Science is the study of the world around us in hopes of finding fact. So in a sense, all science is made up to an extent. Let’s also not forget that the US government constantly denies the existence of anything that’s more “powerful” or “evolved” than homosapiens. And science isn’t proven true by having “evidence” that’s soemthing ISN’T real, it’s proven by constant questions and exploration. And with a closing note; we once thought the world was flat, and that earth was the center of the universe.

  12. Brian says:

    I am really glad that some of you posting choose to discredit this, but what do you believe, and who do you believe. Remember the thousand of witnesses that saw the Rocket carrying a satellite blew up off the coast of Los Angeles in December of 2010? The military put countless hours in denying it, debunking it, making people believe it was a vapor trail from a jumbo jet flying to Hawaii and a u tube video of some swank looking pseudo scientist claiming it was not a rocket. Well it was and anyone who saw it knew it was. An article in Popular Mechanics in April 2011 did an extensive article on the rocket that blew up, the payload that malfunctioned and tried to launch itself prematurely. It was 1 of 2 satellites bound for the La Grange points to view the dark side of the moon. Curious. The credits and the sources were all in a row. popular Mechanics does not screw up articles. So the comparison is, I personally know what DARPA, HAARP, and what the military is doing, has done with sonar, with infrasound, and the cover ups. They use anyone and anything to test it on including using scalar waves, and other waveforms that affect the human nervous system as well from the Corridor Islands, and sure they will discredit anyone with any knowledge including having a channel like DIscovery deliberately sabotage a show so it passes through the military sensors with enough speculation that they don’t care, but there is enough evidence in it, if you look beyond the obvious CGI and razzle dazzle. The existence of mythological beings is not new nor aquatic hominids however the amount of sweeping conjecture that is associated with it can discredit it. We know so little of our origins as it is and the truth may be unbelievable as well. The atheist science community scoffs at the fantasy of Theology but maybe theology has its roots in Extra Terrestrial mythos, while hard nose fundamentalist science theorists deny any order to the universe. There are many unknown variables, outliers that have been dismissed and we an not afford to eliminate any possibility with assumptions less we desire to deny our existence all together.I really dont think that DIscovery could get this show past the MIlitary if they did not somehow put holes in the materials. Think about it, those scientists are real people and would you want to commit professional suicide like that unless you had a real commitment to something in the content? Not everyone sells out and believes in principle.If you take everything at face value as many people did, the shows staging was all you saw.You trust our military? Mom and apple pie and the deceit shoveled down your throat? That is why our presidency is a post not sold to the highest bidder by those who like in the video stay in the shadows

    • Robert says:

      THank you (above). Those scientists in the Mermaid video have committed career suicide due to their very involvement in that Discovery channel episode. Their research WAS confiscated. And, our military and government DOES lie and cover up real-life events.

      • Miss. Marshall says:

        I was elated when I read both of your comments. People who put complete trust in what the government says to be true are sorely naive.

  13. dorothy says:

    Look, guys,
    I don’t want to believe the mermaid story, either. That’s why I’m searching the internet now-to find someone who has evidence or even talking points to discredit the evidence presented by Discovery. Does anyone out there have anything other than, “The Discovery Channel sucks,” or, “It couldn’t be true because the government denies it?” Seriously. Somebody come up with something. Soon. Please.

    • BTN says:

      The show is fiction, the “scientists” are actors reading from a script, the phone-cam video is CGI, the evidence never existed.

      This was no more a documentary thatn “Avatar” or “Transformers.”

      • Pak Liam says:

        Well said, however, people struggle to understand this. By their very nature conspiracy theories are more ‘sexy’ than reality.

      • Chance Bowman says:

        How is it a conspiracy theory to go from the common sense assumption that mermaids exist?

      • Miss. Marshall says:

        Thank you very much, but the scientists are real. My eighth grade thesis paper was on Paul Roberts and his work with marine biology and ecology. So yes, he is a real scientist. And many legitimate science shows use cgi to show footage of legitimate animals/plants/etc that they cannot procure without harm to the environment or the specimen itself. And many of the footage is real. Some things simply cannot be faked. And I would advise people to keep open minds. Not to mention that if someone automatically believes its factual or true just because it’s on a science-channel on tv, then they are, excuse the derogatory, idiots.

  14. brutus says:

    They also made a show about dragons, it was also a mock doc. I don’t believe in those either. I feel one should know this is what Dis. Chanel does, entertainment.

  15. Dexter Pub says:

    I was tricked for about the first half hour of this as well. This is crap and I am not going to be watching discovery or animal planet anymore because of this kind of crap. This was not obvious and they should have made it clear. I feel stupid because I assumed a documentary on the discovery channel would have been non-fiction.

  16. Pingback: Discovery Channel, Mermaids and Critical Thinking | MYP @ Global Jaya International School

  17. mermaid777 says:

    Ok um first off they r real. 2nd the Government is hiden it thus maken people say they didn’t find one or whatever I mean duh do u really think that were the only smart things around?

  18. mermaid777 says:

    IF… It’s a fact that polar bears evolved from the brown bear, categorized now as full-fledged marine mammals… THEN… Is it possible that apes split off from terrestrial apes millions of years ago (due to coastal flooding) and retreated into the water, evolving into aquatic creatures somewhat related to humans? IF… Human babies instinctively hold their breath when placed under water before they walk – something baby primates can’t do… THEN… Were humans ever capable of having an aquatic state? IF… Dolphins seem to have a unique kinship with humans and possess a learned trait of cooperatively hunting with humans… THEN… Is it possible dolphins learned to hunt with humans because they have a memory of cooperatively hunting with mermaids, a species that closely resembles us? IF… New species of whales (the largest sea mammals) have only been detected within the past two decades… THEN… Is it possible that we haven’t discovered every creature and that if massive whales haven’t been discovered until recently, it answers why we haven’t been able to detect mermaids yet? IF… Ancient, disparate civilizations have described the mermaid without having any communication with other cultures… THEN… Isn’t there a kernel of truth beneath the legend?

    • Pak Liam says:

      Proof that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

    • Pak Liam says:

      There’s a lotta if’s, then’s and maybe’s up there!

      • Caprice Cake says:

        I realize it is something of a wasted effort to point out some of these arguments’ flaws, but I guess somebody should try. 😛
        1. The evolution of brown bears and polar bears has nothing to do with that of humans, apes, or even mermaids. Anyway, you shouldn’t use this as an axiom or an if-then statement, since polar bears and brown bears — similar to Neanderthals and modern men — do not spawn from each other, but are branches of the same ancestor. (My knowledge of this subject is hazy, but I am fairly certain that yours is, as well; therefore, you should not use it to “prove” anything. -_-)
        2. Holding one’s breath in water sounds like a survival trait, to me.
        3. Does the fact that we have domesticated dogs mean that there are werewolves?
        4. Yes. We haven’t found every species yet. But you can’t say something is real, just because you don’t know for a fact that it isn’t.
        5. Ancient civilizations have other parallels. This is actually interesting reading. http://cclitgirl.hubpages.com/hub/Hieroglyphs-Genseng-and-Religion-Some-Similarities-Between-Western-and-Eastern-Cultures

        Overall, you’re just SAYING THINGS and assuming that they have meaning in a logical argument. Your logic is flawed, and you’re only saying ISN’T IT POSSIBLE, which means nothing.

        (Example: Isn’t is possible that I was once an ancient Egyptian god? My name is Ray. Like RA, you know? And “REY” is the Spanish word for ruler!)

      • Pak Liam says:

        A much more polite effort than mine, thank-you. 🙂

    • jariah says:


  19. Imanottelin says:

    The truth of the matter is this..If people believe our government is by the people ,for the people then shame on you..Im not supporting Discovery but there are ways to get your ideas and discoveries to the public without being censored(make a disclaimer of fiction) All im saying is WAKE UP PEOPLE and seek the truth at all cost…

  20. Carlos Davis says:

    Discovery….. in my opinion ytou have lost intellectual credibility and I and my family for the time being cease from viewing your programming.

  21. jariah says:


  22. Pak Liam says:

    There is so many more interesting and varied creatures in the sea to worry about Mermaids, but go on, please, become a marine scientist and prove us all wrong! (I’m all for education and more people becoming scientists.)

    But please do not yell, next time do not use all capitals thanks.

  23. SC says:

    Yes – what a farce the Discovery Channel has become. It was one of the last couple stations I could still stomach. But, alas, now that it has gone to the dogs as well, I will be having my cable TV disconnected tomorrow. TV has become such a wasteland that I fully expect there to be a show airing within a couple months called, “Ow! My Balls!”. If this reference confuses you, do feel free to Google it…

  24. Dale says:

    There should have been disclaimers. Discovery has been a trusted source for children and adults to watch. Now how as parents can we let our children watch this channel without having to sort through the lies and politics. It would have made a better movie with a little change in the scripting,ending and they could have advertised it as a “movie special” for Dicovery.
    Our kids get enough junk thrown at them without Discovery joining in.

  25. YouAreAJunkie says:

    Discovery is DEAD.
    Television is DEAD.
    End of story.
    Lies, half-truths, and propaganda is all it is.
    It serves no purpose but to rot your brain, and dumb you down.
    Turn it off.
    After the withdrawals, your eyes will finally be open, and you’ll realize just how truly damaging it was.

    Most that read this will NOT even have the courage to turn it off.

  26. Santos says:

    In Brazil, this “documentary” was shown yesterday at night. I was watching it and, I have to admit, it was holding my attention. But, only in the final part, the supsosed scientists told us all the material they claimed they have, had been confiscated by authorities, including images, tests. So, it means that all of that stuff was fake, all the scenes was staged. When they had shown “parts of the creature”, I thought that those images were real, whatever it could be. Discovery is not a documentary channel anymore, it became just an another one entertainment channel.
    Congratulations by the post and sorry about my terrible English.

    • Pak Liam says:

      That’s ok, thanks for your comment. I find it frustrating that they keep showing this ‘documentary’ it really does not help the cause of science at all. And there is so many amazing real science stories out there, they do not need to make this stuff up!

      Google zombie ants and zombie spiders, a fungus that attacks this organisms and takes over their minds! (well, causes a change in their behaviour that is beneficial to the fungus).

      or the blobfish, or the Axolotl (aka walking fish), or the leafy sea dragon or hydrothermal vent organisms!

      Science, real science is already amazingly complex, interesting and wonderful, they dont need to make it up (and lie!)

  27. Tina says:

    I had mixed emotions after watching the entire show and doing some research on the internet to determine for myself if this was something that could be possible. It is just too surreal, and near the end of the show I realized how far-fetched they went. I watched this show with my husband and 7-year old girl. My daughter kept saying that the information on the show was made up because mermaids aren’t real and it’s not true. It’s amazing how intelligent my 7-year old girl is. I definitely learned more from her 10 second comment than wasting 2 hours of time watching a show which I had so much respect for prior. I’m actually totally disgusted with what they did, and the lies, lies, lies….I used to have high regard for their shows, now I know not to believe or watch anything they air. They are mocking our intelligence and what they should have done was be clear from the very start of the show that none of the information or characters depicted were based on true events. Very disappointing, Discovery Channel and you lost a potential regular watcher of your channel. I’m sure this opinion has resonated to millions of viewers. Discovery Channel, you screwed up this time, good luck getting your credibility back. You’ve disappointed us all, and I will not subject my intelligent little girl, or to my scientific mind to your farce of a channel.

    • Pak Liam says:

      But what an intelligent, critical thinking young girl you have!

      • Tina says:

        Thank you! I will let her know. She will be glad to hear that! 🙂 great blog by the way. Very thought provoking and lots of intelligent banter. Love it! Please keep it going. Great job!

      • Pak Liam says:

        Thank-you very much. Glad you like it.

  28. Krissy says:

    Makes me dislike Discovery!! That is for sure.

  29. Per says:

    Im a phd scientist working with aquatic ecology.

    Have you ever considered why your intelligent daughter said there are no such thing as mermaids? Has she been swimming around in the seas the last 50 years or has she been told? Please! We think we know it all, that were are gods. If we do know it all, and if we are gods, then mermaids might be a fact.

    I agree I also felt that the show was a fake. But was it? I dont KNOW. Do I have to know? No

    Critical thinking involves your own believes as well…

    Excuse my bad english

    • Pak Liam says:

      A PhD scientist ? That’s a fallacious appeal to authority.

      Though I suspect that you are trying to insert an idea about critical thinking rather than just blindly adhering to one position or another. However, surely in this rather preposterous example, not a lot of critical thinking is required ?

  30. Dove says:

    Television is just another vehicle that sources are using to push an agenda that will very soon cause “everyone who watches” to become like-minded. There is a very specific agenda coming down the media pipes that will cause lots of people to be deceived. Hmmm…”it may cause even the very elect to be deceived”. Remember, “my people perish for lack of knowledge”. (some of you will get this others need to wake up) You’ve been warned. Theories, all they do is provoke thinking but we are individual human-beings with unique minds so all we can do is make the most of our intelligence or we will come to depend on artificial intelligence….or is it too late?

    • Pak Liam says:

      And pray tell, what is this specific agenda ?

      to be honest, I think it is just a case of Discovery Channel making a mockumentary that will appeal and gain them viewers, and therefore more dollars, nothing more or less.

  31. tristan says:

    If government want to cover this up NOAA of course will deny it because they are connected, Discovery channel simply is outlet that these poor scientist needed to get their views out, if there are mermaids and only egotistical thinking would assume possibility of mermaids cannot be real same thinking that we are center of universe or only living creatures in this vast space is the exact thinking government would count on to blur the reality. We barely uncovered a percentage of the ocean species it so vast a lot more vast than our current land areas who know what lives down there. And if we uncovered dolphins and whales, who knows even what smarter and more advance creatures are down there.

  32. Reggie says:

    I really thought it all was real I even watched the show after it. Then went online and found out it was all fake. Not gonna lie real or not it was an interesting show.

    • Pak Liam says:

      Fair enough, it’s entertainment, I’m not arguing that I still think a disclaimer would be appropriate. (even if it is just at the end with the credits!)

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